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Nursing home abuse takes many different forms, but one of the most dangerous types of abuse involves the overmedication of patients.  Patients with dementia are particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse, although it could happen to anyone who is living in a nursing home.  Abuse of medication can change a senior’s personality, increase the risk of falls, cause serious health conditions and even cause death. Yet, despite the risks, overmedication happens every day in nursing homes throughout the country. prescription-bottle---blank-label-991548-m

The problem stems from the fact that the behavior of some nursing home patients is difficult to control. This is especially true of patients with advanced dementia, as these patients may become anxious and aggressive. Staff members may not know how to deal with patients, or may not wish to expend the energy to provide appropriate care for troubled nursing home residents. Instead of providing adequate and appropriate care, patients are medicated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs to make them docile. An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer should be consulted if this is happening to someone that you love who is in a nursing home.

Overmedication is a Common Form of Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse

Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) published a comprehensive report on the risks of overmedication in a nursing home setting.  According to the report, approximately 300,000 nursing home residents across the country are currently being treated with antipsychotic medications such as schizophrenia and bipolar drugs.  The majority of these nursing home residents do not have the medical condition that the drugs are actually approved to treat. Instead, the drugs are being given to patients to calm them down, quiet them down, and make them easier for nursing home staff members to deal with.

Dementia patients are especially likely to be prescribed these drugs. Around 88 percent of the claims that were made to Medicare to cover antipsychotic drugs for nursing home patients were for people who had been diagnosed with dementia. Because the medications are not actually approved to treat this condition, a campaign was started by the government that was supposed to lessen the reliance on antipsychotics for these vulnerable seniors. The campaign made the not-very-ambitious goal to reduce the use of these medications by a period of 15 percent over a year. This small reduction did happen, but it occurred over a two year period.  It also left many patients still being prescribed antipsychotic medications they do not need.

The problem is, these medications have a black box warning about the dangerous side effects, including an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, suicide and death. A patient who is drugged with an antipsychotic medication may also be at far greater risk of falling, which can lead to a broken hip or other serious and sometimes deadly injuries.

The patients these drugs are being given to cannot consent to the medications if they don’t understand the risks. Families are often kept in the dark about what is going on.  This is an egregious violation of patient rights as nursing home staff should not be drugging patients and endangering them just to make them easier to care for. If a patient suffers harm because of this type of overmedication, the victim or surviving family members can pursue a damage claim for nursing home abuse.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from overmedication and negligent nursing staff. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of Atlanta nursing home abuse. 

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Parents count on their car seats to protect children in the event that an Atlanta motor vehicle crash occurs. Unfortunately, not all car seats work effectively. When a car seat has a design defect or a manufacturing flaw, children are put at grave risk of injury. Manufacturers have an obligation to carefully test all car seats before they are released in order to ensure that there are no problems with the products. If a defective car seat does make it to the marketplace, the company must act promptly to recall it… hopefully before any kids suffer harm. car seat

Unfortunately, it appears that there is a chance the car seat manufacturer Graco may not have done what it was supposed to. If it turns out that the company failed its customers and that kids suffered damages as a result, parents may be able to sue with the help of an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.

NHTSA Investigates Car Seat Recall Process

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it is launching a special investigation into how Graco handled the recall of car seats the company had manufactured.

Graco has recalled more than six million defective car seats in 2014. This is described as “the largest child seat recall in history.” The car seats had to be recalled because they had a defect causing the buckles to stick or to get stuck in the latched position. This problem could create “an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency.”

Graco did not institute this recall until it faced extensive pressure from the NHTSA. The agency believes that the company may not have acted quickly enough, despite the fact that it either knew or reasonably should have known about the serious problems with the car seats.

When motor vehicle equipment has a problem or a safe-related defect, the manufacturer must notify the NHTSA within a period of five business days. Since Graco did not do this, the NHTSA is investigating whether a violation of the law occurred.

If it turns out that Graco broke the rules, then the car seat maker could face penalties of as much as $35 million in fines. The GROW America Act, which is a four-year reauthorization bill, may raise this cap. Congress established the cap on civil fines assessed by the NHTSA and there is a proposal under consideration that would raise the cap to $300 million in civil damages.

Any fines that Graco is expected to pay to the NTHSA will be separate from the potential settlement monies or damages awarded to plaintiffs whose children suffered harm as a result of a problem with the latch on their car seats. Individuals and families affected by the defect will need to pursue their own legal action through a personal injury, wrongful death or mass tort case to get compensation for personal losses.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from truck collisions. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta truck collision. 

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Truck collisions are often among the most serious or deadly of accidents due to the large size of tractors and other commercial vehicles. Everything possible should be done to prevent trucks from becoming involved in crashes and causing harm to motorists on the road. One of the most important steps taken in recent years has involved imposing stricter limits on the number of hours that truckers can be on the road. Unfortunately, the new rules on maximum on-duty hours and maximum drive time have been met with significant resistance. truck 2

A new survey commissioned by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition seems to indicate that motorists would prefer to keep strict limits in effect to ensure that tired truckers aren’t on the roads. When a fatigued driver does cause a collision, an Atlanta truck accident attorney can help those who are hurt to pursue a claim to receive monetary compensation for resulting losses.

Tired Truckers Could Increase Atlanta Truck Accidents

Under current rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are limited to operating their vehicles for a maximum of 70 hours per week, after which time they must take a 36 hour rest break that includes two overnight periods.

Some U.S. Senators, however, are pushing to expand the number of hours that truckers can driver over the course of a week. According to The Hill, a proposed amendment to the Senate appropriations bill would increase the maximum limit on weekly hours to 82 hours per week. Other senators are fighting this and seeking to keep the limits where they currently are.

A recent survey found that there may be broad public support for continuing the lower limits. Around 80 percent of people responding to the survey said that they would not feel as safe on the roads if drivers of semi-trucks were allowed to drive for longer periods of time. When truckers have to operate their vehicles for too long, they may feel pressured to drive even when they are too tired to be safe.

A former administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expressed concerns that truck drivers are effectively being forced to operate in “sweatshops on wheels,” because trucking companies place so much focus on getting them behind the wheel to complete their runs.

It is unquestionably clear that a tired trucker on the road is a menace to public safety. One high-profile truck crash that occurred this past summer involving the comedian Tracy Morgan illustrated the high costs of having people who are overtired on the roads. However, the American Trucking Association points out that when truckers are required to take overnight rest breaks, this means more trucks on the roads during the day when the traffic is higher.

The issue of trucker rest breaks is likely to be a hotly debated question for a long time to come, but the bottom line is that every truck driver should make the responsible choice and avoid getting behind the wheel when he’s too tired. If a trucker is fatigued and causes a crash, victims need to get legal help.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from truck collisions. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of an Atlanta truck collision. 

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In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down a law imposing a damage cap on non-compensatory damages in medical malpractice cases. Damage caps limit the amount of money that a patient can receive for non-economic losses caused by medical negligence. For example, if a jury determines that a victim has suffered $500,000 in pain and suffering but there is a damage cap of $350,000 in place, the victim cannot receive more than the $350,000.
Damage caps are an infringement on the right of medical malpractice victims to be fully compensated for the injuries and losses that they may suffer due to poor quality medical care. Unfortunately, these caps still exist around the country. Recent evidence suggests that when damage caps are put into place, they not only harm the patient who is unable to recover compensation but they also make the healthcare system worse for everyone. medical surgery

Medical negligence is a serious problem, with some estimates suggesting 200,000 or more deaths each year because of preventable medical mistakes. Malpractice claims help to ensure that healthcare providers are held accountable in situations where they fail to provide professional care. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can provide assistance to those who wish to take legal action to pursue a claim for compensation after medical negligence occurs.

Tort Reform Can Worsen Healthcare Outcomes

Advocates in favor of capping malpractice damages argue that doing so will help to keep healthcare costs down. The theory is that by limiting the amount that must be paid after a medical mistake occurs, malpractice insurance costs will be lower and the savings will be passed on to consumers of healthcare.

Reality, however, does not match up with this theory. Not only that, but without the threat of an uncapped malpractice payout, providers may not be as careful as they otherwise would be. According to the Huffington Post, four different studies conducted in recent years have undermined the positions put forth by advocates of tort reform and shown how detrimental the impact of damage caps can be.

One study looked at Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) which are “standard measures of often preventable adverse events.” Patient Safety Indicators were developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and include post-operative mistakes; mistakes during surgery; hospital-acquired infections and birth errors. The research into patient safety indicators found that “patient safety generally falls” when caps are put into place. The decline in patient safety was described as “widespread,” and applied both to aspects of medical care that were likely to lead to malpractice claims as well as to aspects of medical care that were less likely to give rise to a lawsuit.

Another of the studies found that caps on damages could actually increase the cost of healthcare, contrary to popular belief.

Clearly, these studies provide yet more reason to be against any type of cap on damages that could affect patients who have been harmed. Patients who are victims of medical negligence deserve full compensation and should consult with an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from medical negligence. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of medical negligence. 

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When children receive gifts for Halloween or the upcoming winter holidays, the new toys and other presents should bring nothing but joy to the home. Unfortunately, sometimes toys turn out to be dangerous and they actually put children at risk of serious injury or even death. kid 2

An Atlanta defective products lawyer knows that the number of toy recalls have been declining in recent years, as safety efforts have improved and dangerous toys are more often identified before they are actually released to the public. However, risky toys could still make it onto store shelves. When kids receive gifts for Halloween or other holidays, parents need to be aware of how to check for recalls and should make sure that these new toys are safe before kids start playing.

Recalled Toy Dangers for Kids

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made a strong effort in recent years to try to stop dangerous toys from being sold before kids receive these items and are put at risk. There is a toy safety system in place that requires all toys sold in the U.S. to undergo testing from independent laboratories located worldwide. If a shipment of toys comes to this country that has not been tested or that does not meet the required safety standards, the shipment will be stopped in port.

Over the past five years alone, U.S. Customs has worked with the CPSC to stop more than 9.8 million units of defective toys from coming into the U.S. More than 3,000 different types of toys were stopped in port.

Unfortunately, despite the success at keeping these dangerous toys out, some high-risk items have made it to the marketplace. In 2013, for example, a total of 31 toy recalls occurred. This was a significant reduction from the 172 toy recalls that happened over the course of the 2008 year. It is important to realize that this does not necessarily mean toy manufacturers are doing better; just that testing and screening are catching problems before the toys are sold.

The CPSC’s metrics focus on many different things, including the amount of lead that is in a toy. This helps to explain why there were no toys recalled due to excess lead in 2012, but there were 19 toys recalled in 2008 because of problems with too much lead in them.

Any time a dangerous toy reaches the marketplace, there is a risk of injury or death. In 2010, for example, there were 19 deaths due to toy defects. In 2011, there were 11 fatalities. In 2012, the number of deaths is expected to be higher as a result of the fact that more people are now reporting fatalities.

Parents need to know the risks and when a child receives a toy this Halloween or for other winter holidays, parents should check to determine if the toy has been recalled or not. The website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission provides information on the latest recalls and makes it possible for parents to look up whether their child may have received any gift that has been subject to a recall.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in cases arising from defective toys and products. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of a defective product. 

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Young children are always at the greatest risk of being involved in a pedestrian collision. This risk is unfortunately more than doubled on Halloween night. Parents and kids need to be aware of the dangers of trick-or-treating and take steps to avoid incidents. If a child is harmed by a dangerous driver who fails to be reasonably careful on Halloween, an Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer should be consulted for help. two-pumpkins-1438562-m

Preventing Halloween Pedestrian Accidents

When kids go out trick-or-treating, they tend to be on the roads as it is getting dark. Young children may also run into the middle of the road, dash into the street from between parked cars, or cross roads without looking. All of this creates a tremendous risk of motor vehicle collisions.

State Farm recently conducted a large-scale study of more than four million motor vehicle accident records from 1990 to 2010. The goal was to determine how dangerous Halloween is for children and the results were not good news. According to the research, a total of 115 kids were killed on Halloween night in pedestrian accidents over the course of the study period. This is an average of 5.5 deaths in pedestrian accidents each year on Halloween night. This is more than double the 2.6 pedestrian accidents that occurred, on average, over the course of a single normal day.

As many as 70 percent of the accidents that occurred on Halloween night happened in the middle of the block, rather than at intersections or on corners of the road. This is likely because children tend to run out between vehicles and into the middle of the road to cross and they get struck by drivers who aren’t paying attention or who cannot stop on time.

Around 60 percent of the accidents occurred between the hours of 5:00 and 9:00 PM with most accidents happening between 6:00 and 7:00 PM when it started to get dark. Kids aged 12 to 15 were the most likely to be in deadly pedestrian accidents. Children within this age group accounted for 32 percent of the pedestrian deaths, compared with 23 percent of fatalities in the five-to-eight age group, which was the group with the second highest number of fatalities.

Kids between 12 and 15 may be at an age when they no longer go out with an adult, which may account for the higher number of fatalities. Safe Kids Worldwide warns parents that children under 12 should not trick-or-treat alone, but the data clearly shows that even parents of older kids need to go over safety rules such as not crossing when using an electronic device; looking both ways before crossing; and always crossing at corners or crosswalks.

Drivers also have an obligation to follow best practices for safety in order to reduce the risk of deadly pedestrian accidents on Halloween night. Drivers should ensure that they slow their speed when going through residential neighborhoods where kids are likely to be trick-or-treating. Drivers should also be on the lookout for children, especially as it starts to get dark out. If parents dress their kids in bright costumes and put reflective stickers on trick-or-treat bags, hopefully this will help drivers to see kids and avoid a crash.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in pedestrian accident cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of a pedestrian crash. 

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Nursing homes are required by federal law to report any and all allegations of neglect or abuse that are made by residents or family members. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are not living up to their reporting obligations. This makes it difficult for the government to enforce rules designed to ensure patient safety. When a nursing home fails to report possible abuse or neglect, family members and seniors looking for a residential care environment may also be deprived of information they need to make an informed choice. nursing home

Every credible accusation of potential abuse and neglect should be investigated. Victims who need help understanding their rights and obtaining compensation for abuse should consult with an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance with their case. In many situations, having an attorney is the only way to get justice and to ensure that the negligent nursing home does not do more harm to other vulnerable seniors.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse May Be Underreported

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took a close look at whether nursing homes were fulfilling their reporting obligations that exist under federal law. The report was based on a sample of 209 different nursing facilities nationwide and the results were troubling. The data revealed that:

  • Just 76 percent of nursing homes had appropriate policies established for complying with federal rules for reporting abuse and neglect.
  • Just 61 percent of nursing homes had appropriate documentation demonstrating that they were actually in compliance with federal reporting requirements.
  • Just 53 percent of reportable accusations of potential abuse and neglect were actually reported.

This means only around half of all potential instances of abuse of vulnerable seniors are brought to the attention of government officials who could take action to protect nursing home residents.

Unfortunately, even though many cases of abuse are not being brought to the attention of authorities, the reports that are being made show very high rates of abuse and neglect in nursing homes throughout the country.

In 2012, 85 percent of all nursing facilities reported that at least one allegation of abuse or neglect had been made. While 24 percent of the cases involved resident-to-resident abuse, nursing homes may still be at fault for this high-risk behavior because they should have sufficient staff to supervise and protect their residents.

In 40 percent of reported instances of abuse, the allegations were made against a staff member at the nursing home. Nursing homes are responsible for the actions undertaken by on-duty staff members and can be held legally liable if abuse or neglect occurs to residents as a result of an employee’s behavior.

Around five million vulnerable seniors may be victimized each and every year by caregivers. Nursing homes clearly need to do a better job to protect those under their care. Victims also need to understand their rights and should get appropriate legal help from an Atlanta nursing home abuse attorney.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in nursing home abuse cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of abuse.

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Our Atlanta product liability attorneys are following recent news about Honda’s recall of 126,000 motorcycles with malfunctioning brakes, the second such recall done. These vehicle recalls show product defects in vehicles could potentially cause accidents, injuries, and even deaths.

The recalled motorcycles include GL-1800 motorcycles from 2001 through 2010, and those from 2012. Honda issued an initial recall of these motorcycles in December 2011, but continued receiving complaints. Honda told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the reason for the problharley davidsonem was undetermined, and they were still investigating the cause.

Through July 24 of this year, Honda received 533 complaints about problems with the bikes. It turns out the secondary brake master cylinder can cause the rear brake to drag, which in turn can cause a crash or fire. The complaints include reports of eight small fires; luckily, no reports of crashes or injuries related to these brake problems were received.

Honda will send a letters to the owners of the affected motorcycles, explaining the problem and how to look for it. If the motorcycle is defective, an owner can take it to the dealer for inspection. They will receive another letter once the replacement parts are available to fix the motorcycle.

There are more than 200,000 registered motorcycles in Georgia. Over the recent Labor Day weekend, members of American Bikers Active Toward Education (ABATE) of Georgia stated that the trend of buying a motorcycle instead of a car is continuing since gas prices remain high. ABATE asserts that one motorcycle death is too many; the group’s slogan is, “Look twice to save a life.” With regard to their slogan, the group explains, “How to process that information is to look twice, so your brain receives two different signals and can triangulate the motorcycle’s presence, distance, and oncoming speed.” ABATE succeeded in helping to pass a bill increasing the penalty for those who cause injury or death to a motorcyclist. They also teach young drivers in schools, and help raise awareness that all drivers should drive safely and note all vehicles around them.

Motorcyclists remain vulnerable on the roads they share with bigger cars and trucks. Sometimes even good drivers, let alone those distracted or impaired, do not see these smaller vehicles. In already dangerous situations, defective or malfunctioning motorcycles can create even more serious consequences.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, or in an accident with another vehicle driven by a distracted or impaired driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Efi21 via morgueFile

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read an article about a malpractice case against a dentist in DeKalb County.

Haley Buice, a 33 year-old mother of four, began seeing Dr. James Cauley in 2008 at Coast Dental of Georgia in Acworth. She alleged that Dr. Cauley demonstrated shoddy workmanship when implanting veneers, improperly fitted more than 12 crowns, proposed unnecessary treatment for healthy teeth, and ignored problems with unhealthy teeth. The treatments came to more than $20,000, but the billing was never properly documented. Dr. Cauley left Coast Dental in 2009 before getting a file9261297827467chance to finish the work, and Ms. Buice was forced to seek treatment from other dentists to fix Dr. Cauley’s work.

After filing the initial complaint in 2010, Ms. Buice’s lawyers discovered Dr. Cauley had a problems with drug abuse. In 2011, Ms. Buice filed a claim against Coast Dental for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Coast Dental hired Dr. Cauley in 2007 despite his testing positive for Valium at a drug screening. The complaint alleges Dr. Cauley overdosed on a narcotic five weeks after he was hired, and that he used nitrous oxide intended for patients.

Dr. Cauley eventually settled with Ms. Buice; the terms of the settlement are confidential. In her suit against Coast Dental, a jury awarded Ms. Buice $2.8 million in compensatory damages. Coast Dental settled with Ms. Buice on her claims concerning Dr. Cauley’s drug use and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, and compensated her for potential punitive damages.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional such as a dentist or psychologist, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and help you choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: mconnors via morgueFile

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Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are, like many Americans, following the frustrating stories of Veterans Affairs backlogs. People who fought for our country are finding themselves cheated out of the high quality, prompt medical care they deserve. One recent story concerns a Georgia family that will receive more than $100,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs because a VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia, failed to properly treat Jimmy Lee Stapletfile0001770758579on, a 68 year-old veteran, for gallbladder cancer. Mr. Stapleton, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1967, suffered from two years of neglect and substandard care in three different VA hospitals before receiving his cancer diagnosis. He died at home on June 2.

Mr. Stapleton was first diagnosed with gallstones at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in 1998. The surgeons chose not to remove the gallstones at the time. After suffering in pain for 13 years, doctors diagnosed him with pancreatitis in 2011. In November of that year, doctors at the VA hospital decided that his gallbladder and part of his liver needed to be removed. Mr. Stapleton underwent surgery at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in early 2012. During the operation, doctors did not find any evidence of cancer, but ordered Mr. Stapleton to come for periodic testing and chemotherapy to prevent a potential spread of the disease. However, subsequent appointments were cancelled at the last minute by all three Georgia VA hospitals. The Stapletons repeatedly requested referral to a private hospital, but their requests were denied. Mr. Stapleton’s wife, Carolyn, later stated, “He was sent on a merry-go-round of canceled appointments from one hospital to another.” In August 2013, doctors finally diagnosed Mr. Stapleton with Stage 4 gallbladder cancer.

The family argued that the VA should have allowed Mr. Stapleton to receive treatment in a private medical center after Georgia’s three VA hospitals were unable to see him. After settling with the VA over Mr. Stapleton’s death, Carolyn Stapleton said, “The outcome’s unfair, and I truly believe if the VA had done their job, my husband would still be here today. No one should have to go through the same torture my husband and other veterans have, and I hope they don’t.”

Atlanta Wrongful DeathLawyers

If your loved one died as a result of negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options. Please contact us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

Photo Credit: Ladyheart via morgueFile

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